Modi-Sharif hold brief meeting at CoP 21 in France

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held a brief meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif as world leaders converged here for the start of the Conference of Parties (CoP) climate summit.

Neither the Indian external affairs ministry not the Pakistani foreign office gave details of the meeting but the Pakistani media quoted Sharif as saying that “Pakistan wants peace with India with dignity”.

“PM @narendramodi meets PM Nawaz Sharif at COP 21 in Paris,” external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup earlier tweeted along with a picture of the two leaders shaking hands.

The two leaders were then seen sitting on the same sofa and engaging in an animated discussion for a brief while.

This was the first meeting between the two leaders since they met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Ufa, Russia, in July this year.

After the meeting, they directed their foreign secretaries to initiate the process of renewal of talks, including meetings between the national security advisors of the two countries.

However, talks between Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaz Aziz scheduled to be held in New Delhi in August this year were cancelled after the Pakistan High Commission in India insisted on inviting Hurriyat leaders for a reception in honour of Aziz.

On Saturday, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Valletta in Malta, Sharif told British Prime Minister David Cameron during a bilateral meeting that Islamabad was ready for unconditional talks with New Delhi.

The Paris meeting has now again sparked hopes of renewal of the dialogue process between the two sides.

Monday’s meeting also comes at a time when the Indian cricket board is awaiting permission from the government to hold a bilateral cricket series with Pakistan at the neutral venue of Sri Lanka tentatively scheduled for mid-December.

Sharif has already given his permission to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the series.

Meanwhile, Pakistani media reported that Sharif stressed on concrete steps to improve bilateral ties with India saying that Pakistan wanted peace with India with dignity.

According to Geo News, Sharif during the meeting told Modi that “we want peace without any compromise on the dignity and honour of Pakistan”.

According to the report, during the meeting, Modi expressed the desire for cordial ties with Pakistan.

Sharif reciprocated Modi’s welcome gesture by saying: “Pakistan desires peaceful co-existence with neighbours.”

“Pakistan desires better bilateral relations with India,” Sharif was quoted as saying.

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